To the editor:
Once again Betty Dill, advisor and mouthpiece for the Sagacious Six, has emerged to spin tales about the "previous Council." The devious plot is: blame the "Fab Five" for the need for new and higher taxes, utility rates and fees to fund a bigger spending budget.
Who better to use than willing Ms. Dill to deflect blame from the real culprits? She and her "cohorts," with falsehoods and delusional accusations, have pulled it off before with this receptive Council majority. They willingly ignore lessons of recent history and just push forward -by hook or by crook- taking us back to the way it was.
The long-standing plans from city staff, rubber stamped by City Manager Szerlag, are to squeeze more revenues from the same overburdened residents.
In her Sept. 15 Breeze "Previous council actions" letter to the editor, Ms. Dill accuses former Councilman Bill Deile and his "chosen cohorts" of backing someone without "experience" for Congress. This shows her ignorance about qualifications for elective office which consists simply of citizenship, age and residency.
Ms. Dill's ignorance extends to qualifications for the city manager. The CM is selected "solely on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications" and not on "public sector qualifications," as she believes. Her "knowledge" about having an assistant city manager is an assumption. They are appointed and can be terminated at will.
Perhaps Ms. Dill can identify the "16 very highly trained and knowledgeable personal (sic)" the city manager got rid of. Did Gary King actually fire anyone or did they leave on their own accord for various reasons?
Ms. Dill states, "All I could ever see was the 'Fab Five' trying to run the city on the city workers' backs" and that "the Fab Five and their supporters were trying to bankrupt our city - to break the unions!" This indicates a perspective that is illogical, factually baseless and lacks credibility.
According to Dill's logic, a local government that tries to address and control excessive spending, rising operating and legacy costs, and near-crippling debt has the ulterior motives of bankruptcy and union busting. The solution offered by the SS Gang and Dill: just go get more money from the cash cows!
The "Cry Wolf" tactic about breaking the unions is a red herring. The reality is that labor negotiations are still part of doing business.
Maybe Ms. Dill can also give specifics on how and what safety services were "cut to the bone." Will residents be confronted with threats of pay more or lose services from our "professional" public safety personnel?
Does Ms. Dill know of any Ordinances, Resolutions or initiatives introduced by the Fab Five that sought to eliminate unions or curtail collective bargaining rights? They do not exist, except in her accusatory imagination.
Across the country reciprocal collusion between public unions and spending-prone elected officials to trade quid pro quo benefits (e.g., "assured" election vs. "negotiated" generous contracts) is pervasive. While not the sole cause, this has been cited as a root cause of financial woes plaguing municipalities. Some have already declared bankruptcy and unions and retirees have suffered.
The Dill mentality seeks to have us expend and bear more to guarantee, nearly in perpetuity, the well-being and prosperity of many who benefit financially on either end of the compensation equation, with giveaways (generous contracts) and takeaways (pensions and benefits).
The "investigations" Dill throws up are difficult to identify without specifics. Yet she represents that "nothing was found to be wrong," and such efforts to be "looking for ghosts." Not mentioned by Dill is that information/records used to conduct "investigations" in too many instances were either missing or so corrupted that definitive conclusions were impossible. Such phenomena are not by accident.
This city has not seen a formal investigation under the auspices of the City Council. However, the many audits from Robert Townsend to State Auditor General to Lee County Clerk of Courts to Michael Kessler to Purvis Gray revealed persistent, troubling findings that strongly indicate the involvement of more than "ghosts."
The second Townsend Audit (FEP-North RO Plant) is now over six months old and ongoing, with a follow-on audit (UEP-SW1, 2 and 4) pending, if it is allowed to proceed.
City Council is pushing forward with UEP-SW6/7, without having any constructive results and insight from a UEP-Phase II audit since 2005 that could help avoid repeating the errors of the past on such a high-profile capital project with many consequences for the residents.
Many "factoids" posing as "facts" have been thrown out by Ms. Dill et al in the cause of casting blame and deception politics. Several call for separate and special consideration and will be dealt with in a future letter to the editor.